Tuesday, July 24, 2018
Reflections after the Fact
A busy, busy life means I can't post as much as I'd like, but I am mindful of the fact that I promised Dad I would write. If I'm honest, it's because of Dad (and Mum) that upto now, I haven't felt able to.
They've left a gaping hole and any attempt to describe how I feel has felt somehow, self-indulgent, disingenuous or pretentious in the wake of their loss.
It's therefore probably a really good sign that I've picked up a pen again! (And I do write in pen first!)
I called my last post "An Orphan's Christmas Message", and seven months on, I don't think I've quite accepted that I'm an orphan.
I was always so close to Dad, and tried to share so many of his hobbies, that I am unsurprised at the level at which I feel his loss. It's a primal, gaping hole!
I remember telling Paul when he was ill, that I wouldn't grieve when he passed as I'd already lost him. I obviously felt this because of the dementia that robbed him of his personality and dignity and pushed him towards a caricature of his former self.
The poignant and lovely thing about loss however, is that it doesn't seem to work chronologically. The Dad I lost at the bitter end, isn't the Dad I remember, grieve or miss.
I remember 'DAD'
- my lovely, quiet, thoughtful Dad whom I'd thought for a long time would be forever lost.
Mum's loss was completely different. She became ill, was diagnosed six months after Dad died (and just to quiet the disparaging voices who claim she was seriously poorly while nursing Dad - I was there at the diagnosis. It was Oct 2016 and Mum was shocked by it!)
Everything after that was a whirlwind. She initially had a good prognosis, but after complications with her chemo treatment, quickly began resembling Dad in both confusion and frailty.
Her death came quickly and yet not quickly enough. I imagine only those who have lost someone to cancer and witnessed the complete ravaging of their loved one can appreciate this dichotomy.
I still dream about them constantly. Sometimes everything is normal in the dream. We're all laughing and joking as if preparing for a family party. Sometimes there's a pervasive sadness to the dream, they're there and yet I know they're gone. Whichever way it is, the hollowness of the 'orphan' is still there when I wake.
I've been told that my loss doesn't compare to other bereavements and absolutely concede that what I feel can't compare to the loss of a child. I pray I'll never know that.
However, my loss is not insignificant. In the same short time I lost both my parents, I lost my beautiful, gentle, treasured mother-in-law and also had to watch my girls become women and acknowledge the loss of any future grandchildren or any future 'hayday' for Paul and I. We will always be tethered to this challenge and although we both love our children more than life, that's a situation almost anyone would approach with a huge sense of foreboding.
So forgive me, but when I'm told I don't understand, I have to repress the urge to let my temper slide and retaliate - neither do you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I've never understood the need to compete in some macabre competition as to whose life is the most tragic of difficult. It's why I've stayed away from "support" groups where I've witnessed distraught relatives trying to outdo each other on how difficult their life is and how unfortunate they are.
Life should still be about celebration no matter what the difficulty. So here are my main reasons for celebration:
1) My children are beautiful, interesting and unlike any other children I've ever met!
2) I'm blessed with fabulous friends and lovely brothers and sisters!
3) Paul and I still have some moments when we're back to being just 'us' and when we do it's bliss!
4) I finally feel comfortable in my own skin.
5) I am an orphan. But I was fortunate enough to be parented by two unique individuals who recognised the importance of expanding my horizons and showing me diversity. Bless them both!